Charlotte audiences can experience the exuberance of the American “swing” era highlighted on stage by “In the Mood” – a brassy, all-singing, all-dancing, touring musical – here for two shows Sunday.
Few musical genres characterize an entire American generation more definitively than big band music has marked the pre- and post-WWII era of the ’30s and ’40s.
The musical stylings of legendary band leaders Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman – alongside crooners like Frank Sinatra and canaries such as the Andrews Sisters – served as the soundtrack for America’s “greatest generation.” The music came to capture an era marked by patriotism, optimism and an American coming of age on the world stage.
“In The Mood” features the String of Pearls Big Band Orchestra and the In the Mood singers and dancers performing more than 50 standards in period costumes, with numbers choreographed to dance styles of the era. Filled with up-tempo medleys, the playlist includes such hit songs of the day as “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” “Tuxedo Junction,” “On the Sunny Side of the Street” and, of course, “In the Mood.”
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“This music is important to our history as Americans because it represents the ‘greatest generation,’ ” said Bud Forrest, creator and producer of the “In the Mood” show. “The 1940s are arguably the most significant decade of the 20th century. The spirit and energy of this music speaks to who we are as a people in terms of our patriotism and culture. The show goes beyond that and pays tribute to all veterans.”
The tour marks the show’s 22nd anniversary on the road in the U.S. Forrest noted the show has also toured extensively in Canada, Australia, the Netherlands and New Zealand.
“In the Mood” was arranged by the late Vic Schoen, the longtime arranger for the Andrews Sisters. Alex Sanchez, a veteran of 11 Broadway shows, is the show’s choreographer and stage director.
“I want people to recognize the music is the story,” said Forrest. “People need to remember there were only 130 million people in this country at the time of World War II, and 16 million were involved in some way with the war effort. The music captures the spirit and feeling of what that time was like. For those still with us, the show brings back a flood of emotions. It is also emotional and energizing for their children who grew up with that music in their homes. We even have a wonderful following from today’s teens into swing dancing and experiencing the music for the first time.”
Forrest said he’s been told by many who’ve seen the show the experience has led to many first-time lengthy family discussions of the time.
“Learning that is music to my ears,” he said. “It makes me so proud to know we’ve contributed to opening doors of understanding.”
Want to go?
What: “In the Mood.”
When: 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St.
Details/tickets: 704-372-1000, www.carolinatix.org/events/detail/in-the-mood-1.